Not Your Average Dance Flick: Flex Is Kings

David LaChapelle's 2007 documentary Rize paid tribute to L.A.'s krumping community, using graceful, sophisticated cinematography to capture its raw, exhilarating energy. Rize glorified krumping without cheapening or sensationalizing it—a rare achievement when it comes to street dance.


Flex Is Kings has similar goals. Directed by Michael Beach Nichols and Deidre Schoo, the film depicts "flex," a style with roots in Jamaica that came into its own in the gritty Brooklyn neighborhood of East New York. Flex features unbelievable "bone-breaking" contortions, effortless gliding, and elaborate hat tricks—all in the service of storytelling. It's a sort of street circus. (Storyboard P, recently profiled in The New Yorker, uses elements of flex in his dancing.)


Flex, however, can be a tricky style to capture on screen. When the flex crew The Ringmasters competed on "America's Best Dance Crew," for instance, the style lost some of its potency in the glossy television setting and the flex crew was eliminated early on. Yet Flex is Kings presents Flex dancers in context—on the streets of East New York, preparing for Battlefest, the ultimate competition for "extreme street dancers.


The film features a cast of singular characters. Flizzo, a flashy showman who once famously released a bird from his mouth as a "punchline" during a performance, is trying to keep dancing while facing new responsibilities as a father; Jay Donn, one of the "ABDC" competitors, is introduced to the world of concert dance when baroque-modern dance group Company XIV invites him to star in their adaptation of Pinocchio.



Jay Donn in a scene from Flex Is Kings. Photo courtesy Visit Films.


Flex Is Kings, which was featured at last year's Tribeca Film Festival, has a series of screenings coming up across the country. Take a look at the trailer below (warning: an expletive is used), then click here to find out if it's coming to a city near you.


Dance on Broadway
Courtesy Boneau/Bryan-Brown

If "Fosse/Verdon" whet your appetite for the impeccable Gwen Verdon, then Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon is the three-course meal you've been craving. The new documentary—available now on Amazon for rental or purchase—dives into the life of the Tony-winning performer and silver-screen star lauded for her charismatic dancing.

Though she's perhaps most well-known today as Bob Fosse's wife and muse, that's not even half of her story. For starters, she'd already won four Tonys before they wed, making her far more famous in the public eye than he was at that point in his career. That's just one of many surprising details we learned during last night's U.S. premiere of Merely Marvelous. Believe us: You're gonna love her even more once you get to know her. Here are eight lesser-known tidbits to get you started.

Keep reading... Show less
What Dancers Eat
Lindsay Thomas

Every dancer knows that how you fuel your body affects how you feel in the studio. Of course, while breakfast is no more magical than any other meal (despite the enduring myth that it's the most important one of the day), showing up to class hangry is a recipe for unproductive studio time.

So what do your favorite dancers eat in the morning to set themselves up for a busy rehearsal or performance day?

Keep reading... Show less
News
Simon Soong, Courtesy DDT

When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.

Keep reading... Show less
News
Alice Pennefather, Courtesy ROH

You ever just wish that Kenneth MacMillan's iconic production of Romeo and Juliet could have a beautiful love child with the 1968 film starring Olivia Hussey? (No, not Baz Luhrmann's version. We are purists here.)

Wish granted: Today, the trailer for a new film called Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words was released, featuring MacMillan's choreography and with what looks like all the cinematic glamour we could ever dream of:

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get Dance Magazine in your inbox